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From the Field: Creative Compassion, Part 2

Ministry looks different during lockdown.

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April 14, 2020

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Check out this article, From the Field: Creative Compassion, Part 2: Many lost capacity for ministering face-to-face, however, as always, the Lord has been moving and new opportunities have opened up during lockdown.

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When a crisis hits, it’s only natural to circle the wagons and take care of our own. But cross-cultural workers and Christ-followers worldwide are also looking outward during this season of social distancing and lockdown. They are widening their circles and caring for the communities where God has placed them. Here are a few encouraging stories we’re hearing from Pioneers across the planet. Let’s keep praying and asking God to give His servants opportunities to share the gospel with those looking for hope.

Emergency help for an extended family

Like many cross-cultural workers, a Pioneers family in South Asia relies on their house helper. They’ve developed a close relationship with her that includes taking mutual responsibility for each other’s well-being. A strict lockdown in their country left this woman and her family in a difficult position. “They literally had no access to food and the little food that we had given them had run out. Neighbors were arrested for trying to leave the community. They were in a panic, so we prayed with them over the phone.”

But how to provide more help when roads were closed? “Thankfully, we were able to transfer money to some friends who lived nearby. Our friend and our house helper’s husband met at the barrier. Through that meeting, we were able to get enough money to our house helper to provide for their extended family as well as neighbors without access to food—enough for the remainder of the lockdown.”

As they point out, friends from the other side of the world helped make this gift happen. Several supporters had contacted the missionary family (“out of the blue”) to ask if they needed money to share with others in a similar situation. “What an answer to prayer,” they say. “It’s been a privilege to be on the ground here and pass on resources to those who would otherwise be without during this time.”

Pioneers teams serve their communities in Asia

Many other Pioneers workers are reaching out to their communities with practical help. One family in a densely populated Southeast Asian city has prepared emergency packets to drop off on the doorsteps of all the homes in their impoverished community. Each packet includes suggestions on how to handle the crisis, anti-bacterial soap, face masks for the family, and a flier explaining the love of God.

It’s more than a handout. They’ve hired a lot of people who are jobless to produce the face masks for these packets as well as for hospitals in their community. “We have already donated 500 masks and 200 bars of soap to the public hospital, along with the personal letter,” they say.

Similarly, a faith-based ministry that exports crafts created by local artisans has redirected its efforts to include sewing fabric face masks and assembling care packages to deliver to the needy in another part of Southeast Asia. Care packages also include anti-bacterial wipes and soap along with a financial contribution to help families meet their basic needs during this time of high unemployment.

More opens hearts behind closed doors

A Pioneers team in the Middle East remains focused on making disciples who make disciples. They work closely with a Muslim-background believer who has become an evangelist. “Over the past couple of months, the Lord has been allowing him to disciple new converts from Islam and to start reaching out to others in ways he never thought possible, especially considering how the government has been watching him closely,” they explain. “Just yesterday, he told us that over the internet (since they were still in full lockdown), someone made a decision to follow the Lord.”

Lockdowns, barriers and curfews do not limit God’s power to transform hearts. He can set someone free spiritually while they and everyone else in their country are locked inside their homes. “It is so incredible how the Lord is using these times to further His Kingdom,” the missionaries say. Let’s pray for local believers facing struggles, especially how to disciple others with all the restrictions in place.

Ministry looks different during lockdown

Caring for the sick. Feeding the hungry. Sharing the gospel. Making disciples. None of these are like they were in 2019. A Pioneers family working with Muslim refugees and immigrants in Europe sums up the season this way:

“Ministry looks very different during this season of lockdown and social distancing. In a sense, we have lost the capacity for ministering face-to-face. However, as always, the Lord has been moving, and new opportunities have opened up. Some of our team members are having more people attending the Bible studies through video conference calls than they ever had before. Syrians, Saudis, Pakistanis, Afghanis and many others have been studying the Bible and joining in group discussions. Some churches have seen more people joining their online church services than during in-person ones. Neighbors that were once very closed to friendship have now started to call out for help and prayers.”

How should we respond to the new mix of opportunity and restriction? This brother in Europe concludes, “Clearly, the Lord is on the move… Perhaps it is time for us to do less and pray more to see the Lord doing even greater things than we could ever envision.”

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<p class="rich-text-callout"><strong>See Also: </strong><a href="#"><em>Discerning Your Calling: How Do You Know If God Is Leading You to Serve Cross Culturally?</em></a></p>

Take the next step

Read Creative Compassion, a collection of stories about how God has given missionaries opportunities to serve others in the midst of crisis.

Elyse serves in South Asia, a region that suffered much in the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode of Relentless Pursuit Podcast, listen as she shares a beautiful story of Jesus healing and delivering a young woman.

What can a missionary do when access to the people they love is suddenly cut off? Read Creativity Loves Constraints.

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